-By Jennifer & Mark Duval
Have a Safe(er) Spring
It’s so nice when the weather starts to get warmer – creek walks are pleasant, grilling out is more enjoyable, we start driving with the windows open. Unfortunately, warmer weather often brings a spike in criminal activity as well.
One thing that’s been a real eye-opener for us as we’ve become involved with the Town Creek HOA Board is the monthly read-out of all crimes reported in Town Creek. We are beyond fortunate to live in a neighborhood where burglary of a motor vehicle (BMV) seems to generally be the most serious problem. While working with the Dallas Police Department for both Crime Watch and VIP (Volunteers-in-Patrol) programs, Mark and I have been privy to some local crime stats. As a result, we can pass along recommendations that should further reduce crime in our neighborhood.
1. A Locked Car is a Safer Car
BMV typically means the vehicle isn’t broken into. Most often it means items are removed from an UNLOCKED vehicle. So, please remember to keep your vehicles locked (especially when they are parked on the street). It’s also smart to hide, or remove, your valuables. This will discourage the more serious crime of breaking into a locked vehicle.
2. Garage Doors are Meant to be Closed (most of the time)
In warmer weather, while we’re in and out doing yard work or wading into some spring cleaning, garage doors often remain open as a matter of convenience. But it can also mean convenience for a thief to commit a crime of opportunity.
And taken one step further, an open garage may present an opportunity for home invasion.
3. Download the “Ring” Doorbell App
Even if you don’t own a Ring doorbell (we do, and we highly recommend them!), you can use the associated “Ring” smartphone app. The app provides neighbors’ reports of suspicious or criminal activity in our area. The Ring doorbell company is also a partner with DPD, and as such it works with the department to report on weekly crime stats for Lake Highlands and Town Creek. This app is a great way to receive valuable safety information to share with other homeowners in our area.
4. Download the “Our Dallas” App
This app replaces the “Dallas 311” app for reporting code compliance violations. The city has shown itself to be much more responsive to issues reported through the app rather than via telephone. The app allows for photos and geotagging as well. While broken sidewalks and overgrown weeds or trees aren’t criminal, a more well-tended neighborhood is less enticing to criminals (according to some criminology studies like the “broken window” theory).
5. Join Crime Watch
You know we must plug our Crime Watch program! With DPD so understaffed, Crime Watch is more important than ever. Reports indicate the Dallas Police Department is short 800-1,000 officers, so the only proactive patrols we get may be the ones we pay for through Crime Watch. If you’re a member, THANK YOU for helping to make our neighborhood safer. If you are not a member, please consider clicking this link to join!
6. Become a VIP
You probably saw this one coming, too! Volunteers-in-Patrol is another effective crime prevention program, also operated in conjunction with DPD. Again, our short-staffed police department is unlikely to patrol Town Creek without a 9-1-1 call to bring them here. VIP works with Crime Watch to look for any suspicious activity or persons in a non-confrontational capacity. The next training opportunity for VIP is expected in June, so keep an eye out – we’ll post details and confirmed dates in the Town Creek Facebook group and on Next Door.
7. Call 9-1-1 if Anything Looks Wrong
Even if you don’t witness an actual crime, don’t hesitate to call 9-1-1 if something or someone just looks “off” to you. Trust your gut. Make the call. And let 9-1-1 call-takers or officers tell you if it’s worth a response. Your information will be kept in records that may become critical down the line! And if you are a Crime Watch member – be sure to call 9-1-1 for suspicious activity BEFORE you notify Crime Watch officers who may not be on duty at the time.
We hope these suggestions will help you be more mindful of preventing crime in Town Creek. Working together we can make our neighborhood safe(er).